M a c G u i d e

The SuperSource

May 2003

Mac Guide®

Macintosh Maturity . Macintosh computers, born January 1984 as prophets of the new graphical user interface and user-friendliness, approach their twentieth anniversary with OS X broadening the Mac to include Unix software while retaining Mac Classic compatibility. Computers have penetrated most facets of modern society; the Internet connects work, home, and school; and wireless connections are approaching StarTrek mobile connectivity.

Aesthetic Functionality . Rare now is the professional or pupil without significant prior computing experience. Most have grown through at least a few computers, learned how to safely upgrade hardware and software, and perhaps have learned to backup frequently and redundantly, on separate media and offsite.

Pretty desktop pictures are available at www.macdesktops.com . Put your pics in the Home> Pictures folder, then in System Preferences> Desktop set Collection to Pictures Folder.

  Elists . User groups physical meetings have evolved into Internet electronic lists. If you want to hear what your Mac subcommunity is doing and thinking, pick your focus at  http://www.themacintoshguy.com/lists/ . Some of the current lists are Bluetooth-Mac, Mac OS X, Mac Professional Audio, iTunes, titanium G4, HomeMac, BusMac, MacMP (MultiProcessor), MacCube, DigiCam, MacVoice (speech recognition), MacDV (digital video), MacGames, iBook, Mac USB, Mac FireWire, MacTips. Apple also lists lots, < http://lists.apple.com/mailman/listinfo >. Some lists are very active, generating scores of messages a day; consider subscribing in Digest mode, which collects many individual posts into one less frequent, often daily, email to you.

There are customs for courtesy on the Internet. One nice set of guidelines is at http://listserve.apa.org/Welcome/Subscription.htm , or search Netiquette in Google. 

Apple Website . The Apple website, www.apple.com , is a handy one-stop, albeit

multi-click, source for support, buying Apple and other branded hardware and software at the Apple Store, downloading music, generally at 99¢ a tune, downloading available  free OS X software, and accessing .Mac,

Apple’s $99 per year subscription service that offers a .mac email address, online storage, backup, public iCal calendars, and easy sharing of files, photos, and digital movies.

Software . Considering a new wordprocessor for OS X. Look at Nisus Writer for X. Weather Pop adds its four-city thermometer and forecast on your X menu. Alepin provides an enhanced Scrapbook for X. Need some evidence snapshots from playing a DVD movie, try VideoLan’s VLC media player (Apple’s DVDPlayer disables the Grab service.) For versatile screen snapshots, Snapz Pro X. MacStumbler alerts you to available Airport networks. For chemistry students, try Periodic Table X by Synergy Creations.

Microsoft Word X appears to continue its predecessors bug, too many saves and an error message reports no more saves due to full memory or disk. Workaround, quite Word and restart; and of course, do save and backup frequently. Generally disabling Fast Saves is safer backup procedure. 

Travel . A TiList globetrotter reports laptops are generally safe with Xray security, but be careful with the machines: use the trays, and submit the laptop last, so you can pass the personal metal detector and catch your laptop with it waiting less on rollers. Brenthaven cases, seemingly lightly carry lots.


Power users continue to help others  in overcoming the bumps of software interactions, hardware upgrades, and a persistent desire for more, better, faster, and more fun.

One need not understand anything about Unix and the underlying core of OS X to well use the Mac’s graphic user interface. But having some familiarity with the foundation helps convert what otherwise might be arcane into familiar. See Adrian Mayo’s tutorial at http://www.osxfaq.com/Tutorials/LearningCenter/ .

O’Reilly offers many good Mac books. Chuck Toporek’s Mac OS X Pocket Reference is a small, 4x7 inch hundred page overview, nicely pocket size for commuter train reading. It’s a good overview for Mac OS 8 and 9 veterans moving to OS X. Dave Taylor & Jerry Peek’s Learning Unix for Mac OS X explains why some X behaviors are different from earlier Mac expectation. O’Reilly’s The Missing Manual series often offer helpful supplementation to software manuals, especially if you prefer paper sometimes complement on-screen, on-line, or CDRom documentation. 

In OS X, logout purges and reloads extensions and preferences associated with the user, while restarting purges and reloads the system extensions and preferences, those common to all users, and runs Disk Utility, to repair any directory corruption. 

Cocktail Maintenance . Unix systems, including OS X, were designed to remain on most of the time, with automatically scheduled maintenance at night and weekly. Use Cocktail as you used to use other utility programs in OS 9: Cocktail> Extras> Auto Pilot> Show, then check all boxes—Remove cache files, Run cron scripts, Optimize network settings, Re-prebind files, Repair permissions—click run.

Power issues heard around the electronic water cooler include shifting from home dialup Internet connection to broadband (DSL, cable, satellite), web hosting deals, home and office networking, synchronizing data between work and home, desktop and portable, Mac and handheld PDA and phone. <dyndns.com> service allows users with dynamic IP to alias it to a static IP.

For Apple customer installable parts info, see www.info.apple.com/usen/cip . Computers are fairly reliable, but carelessness can still break them. James Wiebe reports on Firewire failures, typically a device (digital camera or hard drive) fails to mount on the desktop, see

www.wiebetech.com/pressreleases/FireWirePortFailures.htm . Preventive tips include using high quality cables and not inserting plugs backwards.

Helpful accessories . The Targus CoolPad is a small, flat stand with a few bumps, elevating the rear of laptops about three-quarters of an inch, the front a quarter inch—increasing airflow and significantly cooling the Laptop. CoolPad also swivels, making rear port access easier.


Macs have long been polyglot communicators, readily communicating with other Macs, with Windows, with Unit computers. Aladdin Systems’ MacLink. If you want to explore the Linux variant of Unix, take a look at Debian, which reportedly runs well on the Mac under VPC.

Les Posen, author of a monthly tech column reports that he was visiting his HQ and tired to logon to its intranet to post an article. The IT head said it was hard enough to connect Windows laptops, much less a Mac. Intrepid Les pointed out an Ethernet cable, IT lectured on Netware, thin clients, special software, network settings, etc. The Mac autosensed the network, easily connected, with Safari to the Web, and with command-k displayed the local drives and files. Such direct demonstrations can help reduce the ignorance, bias, and myth still too prevalent with IT. As MacLaw says, an easier to use and more dependable operating system is more productive in any environment. Other incidents at www.maclaw.org/macsvpcs.htm .

Avantgo let Mac OS 9 download several web  sources to a PDA, but it hasn’t been upgraded for OSX. Jpluck for OS X works with X.

Federal mandates and practical marketing suggest designing websites for broad accessability. www.diveintoaccessibility.org gives detailed how-to information. Also see the federal GSA  www.section508.gov ., for federal employees and the public to access resources for understanding and implementing websites accessible to disabled persons.

Want to translate Airport bars into speed: 4 bars=11 Mbps, 3 bars= 5.5 Mbps, 2 bars= 2 Mbps, 1 bar= 1 Mbps. You may be able to tradeoff speed for range: change the multicast rate to 11 or 5.5 Mbps or 1 Mbps.

Travaelling? Some Internet Service Providers (ISP), such as AOL and Earthlink, have 800 dialups as well as local numbers in many cities. In foreign countries, AOL’s network may be easier than some other alternatives.


Apple launched its popular Switcher ad campaign, < http://www.apple.com/switch/ >, many of which are also posted on Apple’s website. As Yo Yo Ma, cellist, says, “Macs are friendly to technically-challenged people like me.”


Apple has also launched a flock of retail Apple Stores, < http://www.apple.com/retail/ >, 26 states. The Genius Bar at the stores reportedly provides knowledgeable people with answers to most Mac questions.

April 2003 Apple reported half its iPods were sold to Windows users, and half Apple Store retail sales are to people who didn’t previously have a Mac.

Mac users now have two decades of user-centered software development. Yet some specialized programs or data sources are restricted to Windows platforms. Virtual PC, now at version 6, generally emulates Windows well in a G4 Mac with 500 MB RAM (random access memory) and L3 (level 3) cache. The 15 and 17 inch PowerBooks have L3 cache, but the 12 inch does not. VPC will still run, but slower without the L3 cache.

VPC works with many Windows versions. Win 95, 98, and Me share similar code, while XP Home, XP Pro have different code. Mac users seem to avoid the XP versions when feasible.


General predictions seem easy to make: computers will continue to process bits faster than users’ fingers type or thoughts form words. The extra capacity will be used by increasingly rich media, as photos and video increasingly become an expected addition to text.

iLife . Apple’s iLife suite of easy multimedia applications is easily sweet. iTunes music, now with access to Apple’s online music store; iMovie for editing and making digital films; iPhoto for editing and posting digital photos; iDVD to play and burn DVD movie disks. Apple has made these so user-friendly, it’s easy to forget how messy these tasks used to be.

Convergence and connectivity continue , with fewer wires. More hardware components are built into computers, rather than being separate external options or even supplemental internal cards. For a while, USB (universal serial bus) and Firewire are the ubiquitous connectors, with Airport and Bluetooth wireless enabling freer mobility.

Cell phones have integrated Palm or other personal digital assistant software, and can surf the web. Handhelds offer integrated cell phones with digital camera attachments. < http://groups.yahoo.com/group/maccellphone >.

Hardware and software continues to permit us to do more than our organizational processes and traditions permit. 


The Internet is no longer a mystery, it has become as familiar as the unwanted spam that pollutes many mailboxes. Security and censorship remain issues, although more social than technical. Lawrence Lessig’s book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, is still much worth reading. Try www.netlingo.com for an Internet dictionary, egen includes emoticons and smilies.

Google remains a leading web search engine, with a clean interface. Google Viewer,  http://labs.google.com/gviewer.html displays pages as a continuous scrolling slide show.  Froogle, < http://froogle.google.com/ > , shows comparative prices; some user comments also at www.epinions.com , www.bizrate.com , www.dealtime.com .

Firstgov, www.firstgov.com , remains an easy portal to government information. Fritz Anderson, fritza@manoverbroad.org , wrote Jefferson, a handy OS X application that easily searches legislative history by bill, subject, or sponsor federal House and Senate data from the 101 st to the 108 th Congress.


Senators and representatives are listed at http://home.mindspring.com/~lawjeff/lobby.htm . Reporters Without Boarders reports on problems journalists have in countries, << http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=20 >. 

www.everyrule.com doesn’t have every, but it does have many. Sports rules are presented at www.momsguide.com ; or for broad resources for school sports click the “What is RunsDeep” button at www.runsdeep.com . Trying to find people? Try Google, www.smartpages.com , www.anyhwho.com , and www.switchboard.com .

Remember the classics. Project Gutenberg, at www.promo.net/pg , provides more than 6000 public domain ebooks. The Rosetta Project is building a near permanent archive of a thousand languages, and provides some translation, < www.rosettaproject.org/live >. You can create customized word list chart in diverse languages. Another travel aid. Other educational sites include www.discovery.com , Project Kaleidoscope at www.pkal.org for undergraduate math, engineering and science, and www.salon.com .

Christina DeMello of MIT put together a listing of college and university home pages, < www.mit.edu:8001/people/cdemello/univ.html >. It’s still a hand resource, although in Dec 2000 she stopped updating it. For do-it-yourselfers, check < www.doityourself.com >.  For a study break, visit www.ifilm.com , or tour Nicolas Pioch’s pleasureware WebMuseum, < www.ibiblio.org/wm/ >. For jazz, blues, and Lenny Bruce, www.fantasyjazz.com , Doonesbury, other comics, and more content at www.uclick.com/client/nyt/db/

At http://altavista.com you can list websites that link to a focal website by prefixing the website with link:// in the search request. Prefix with url:// and you get a list of the focal websiste’s pages. Jefferson, and many Mac programs, some free or shareware, are available from www.versiontracker.com ,. Try www.tivocommunity.com for Tivo tv. Translate at www.dictionary.com , definitions ar www.onelook.com/?&;s=c . Check into the Mac info at www.macintouch.com , www.macminute.com .

Remember, the Internet has little external regulation. Truth may be desirable, but is not a functional requirement of Internet postings. The message reportedly posted by a twenty-year-old bird watcher from Wyoming could actually be from your neighbor, your customer, your daughter, or your boss.


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